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*Picture of Eli*


"That must be Eli, he nipped to take George for a walk but he said he was excited to see you." Cara winks at me before slipping on her flip flops and walking over to the bedroom door. "Don't take too long getting ready or he'll see right through it."

I fake gasp, trying not to laugh, and throw one of her throw pillows at her head as she smiles cheekily and ducks out of the door. As soon as she's out of sight I flop back down on the bed, breathing in steadily. It's ok I tell myself don't overthink anything, you'll only embarrass yourself. I'm awkward enough around boys as it is without months worth of build up to make me even worse.

"Oi Dani! You coming down or what?" I hear Jeremy shout up at me. It's now or never. Jumping off the bed, I slip off my leather jacket and hang it on the wardrobe handle. I glance into the dressing table mirror, decorated with strings of the usual girly fairy lights and necklaces, and fix my hair and makeup to an acceptable standard. Lightly squirting myself with my favourite Marc Jacob's perfume, I slowly head downstairs counting each step to calm myself and ignoring the hammering in my chest.

As I walk past the stair case I hear the familiar bark of Cara's greyhound George. I smile knowing that as soon as I walk in I'll be set upon, he always gets excited at visitors especially when we come in the summer. Cara had got him from the animal rescue centre when she had finally worn her mum down three years ago, she had originally gone in for something smaller like a cat but a mistake by one of the centre's staff had caused George to escape his cage. We turned around to a pair of sad eyes gazing up at us and with that, he became the Carver's new family dog.

As usual I'm startled from my daydream by the sound of a cupboard door slamming, I spin around to see the most beautiful pair of deep blue eyes in my world. His beautiful deep blue eyes.

"Eli." I gasp my throat suddenly as parched as the Sahara desert. Oh come on!

He stops ever so slightly for a microsecond, his eyes skimming up and down my body and raising his eyebrow slightly. What is this? Why is he looking at me like this? Then as if out of nowhere he smiles his soft sexy smile that weakens my knees.

"Hey Dani!" He laughs walking up to me and wrapping me in a tight hug. My cheek rests against his chest and I can feel his heart beating. I close my eyes and breath in his soft smell. Much too soon he releases me and again looks me up and down laughing slightly.

"What?" I protest crossing my arms. Thank God I think to myself, I'm starting to relax. Though still aware that I'm alone in the hall with this Greek God and his tight white T-shirt that clings to his chiselled body. I glance up skimming along his defined jawline and his soft dirty blonde hair that falls sexily in his eyes. Every year I think he can't get any more irresistible and every year, he does.

"Nothing," he glances up looking me right in the eye. "I don't know, maybe it's been a while, but you seem different. I'll have to keep an extra close eye on you around my mates, they'll be all over you." He smiles that smile and gently takes my hand. "After you my lady."
"Why thank you kind sir." I giggle and we walk through the archway, across the dining room and into the kitchen where I can already hear shrieking laughter.

"Hey mate!" My brother jumps up, pulling Eli into a bro hug and tearing my hand from his. I go and sit in between my mum and Cara who kicks me underneath the table as if to say "what the hell?". Oh yeah. The hand holding. I'd like to know what that was about too. I feel a wet nose on my belly and look under the table to find George nuzzling into me. Scratching his ear I bend down and give him a big kiss on his snout making him wag his tail happily.

In between catching up with the gossip with my mum, Al rushes around the kitchen filling bowls with crisps and nuts and filling glasses with generous amounts of wine. Everyone is laughing and joking as if we haven't been apart for months, just like a real family. Every so often I dare a lingering look up at Eli to be greeted each time with his eyes flickering away. What? That's usually my job.

"So what are we all wearing tonight?" Cara says taking over the conversation and getting down to business with a serious look on her face. Apart from socialising, fashion is her true passion. I can totally see her one day running her own big label somewhere like New York, organising fashion shows and walking red carpets.
"Now you boys know that ripped jeans and T-shirts won't cut it. Button ups and dark denim at the very minimum," she says glaring at them and popping a crisp in her mouth. As for you mum, Lindsey I've left you both a couple of options in your rooms. She turns and smiles at me, "and Dani, you are gonna look so hot when I'm through with you."
I grin back at her, "are you trying to say I don't look hot already?"
"Sweetie, no one looks their full potential after travelling for God knows how long."

"Almost six hours!" Jeremy announces glaring at my mum who holds up her hands defensively. "Hey you're an adult now, no one forced you into that car."
"Aw, but then I'd miss you too much." He laughs before taking her hand and kissing it before winking at me and Cara.
I glance at Al who is laughing knowingly. We would all be seriously worried if my mum and brother didn't argue at least ten times a day, it's how they know they love each other.

I brave a look at Eli who grins at me, extremely entertained by our family's bickering, probably taking pleasure that he's not involved in this one. He winks at me before sipping his wine.

"Come on then Cara!" I jump up before I start drooling "I am completely in your hands."
"Great," she stands up clapping her hands before leaning down to me and whispering "he isn't gonna know what's hit him." Grabbing me by the hand she pulls me up and past my very startled looking brother, towards the stairs saying; "Clear the path boys! I've got work to do."

Stealing a glance back into the kitchen I catch Eli staring at me as I leave the room but instead of quickly averting his eyes, they stay on me. Intent and focused and something else which I can't quite place. All I know is that it's not the kind of look you give to just your sister's dorky friend. That is the look that has felt all too familiar to me for the past seven years.

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